Felt 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez
“We still spittin’ on that indie bullshit,” Murs raps on “Protagonists,” the lead track off Felt’s third album. While his 2008 Warner Bros. release Murs For President didn’t exactly fly off the shelves, the whole shebang seemed kind of uncomfortably commercial for a guy that hosts an independent hip-hop festival every summer. Add this to the fact that his Felt partner-in-rhyme Slug (of the Minneapolis group Atmosphere) now co-owns a label that recently signed well-known acts like former Roc-A-Fella MC Freeway and Dilated Peoples member Evidence, and it’s no wonder these two feel they still have something to prove to the indie rap world they once called home. So when the California rapper says “the flow is so rough, that the mainstream suckers won’t know this us,” on “Revisiting The Styleetron,” it almost comes off as a plea to the underground: “We’re still one of you!”
Which may not be true, but they sure do their best to prove it. Like the duo’s previous two releases, this LP is a tribute to a B-List actress (in this case, Rosie Perez), with the production supplied by Def Jux rapper/producer Aesop Rock (The Grouch and Ant each scored one of the previous two). Aes does a great job here, as he avoids making the CD sound like a Murs album, or an Atmosphere album, or even an Aesop Rock album; somehow, this just sounds like a Felt album. The general tone of Felt 3 is grittier than the previous two, as the soundscapes range from up-tempo head bobbers to darker, layered beats, but he does a great job grabbing the listener’s attention without directing any limelight away from the consistently on-point lyrics.
So yeah: Slug and Murs do their part, too. They’re still talking about some of the same old things, like the battle-rap shit-talking on “Protagonists” and “Paul Reubens,” or those familiar around-the-way types of tales they’ve been telling for the past 10 or so years. But most impressive (or disappointing, depending on where you stand on Murs’ solo career or Slug’s Atmosphere catalog) is the maturity that’s exuded, as the two have both unquestionably stepped their respective narrating games up; the result being moments like the haunting tale on “Permanent Standby,” or “Deathmurdermayhem,” on which both guys tell ‘fuck you’ stories in their own distinct manners.
Clocking in at 21 tracks, Felt 3 has room for just about everything: a bunch of skits, battle-rap anthems, story-telling (dark and lighthearted alike), and, somehow, the energy of a young Rosie Perez is maintained throughout. The two might be gaining popularity by the minute, but they can still kick shit like they used to. No further proof needed.